Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feedback on "Ottawa Citizen: "Where Did That Long Term Space Plan Go?"

It's only been online for a day, but I've already begun to receive interesting feedback from my February 15th, 2010 post "Ottawa Citizen: "Where Did That Long Term Space Plan Go?"

Naturally, my favorite feedback is completely positive but perhaps the most useful and incicive comments come from those in the space community with slightly more of a long term perspective. For example, here's a comment from Kieran A. Carroll:
Both the Ottawa Citizen article and your blog entry make the point that Steve MacLean has yet to release the new Long Term Space Plan, despite quite a long wait. Two things to keep in mind about this:
  • The plan has been developed, and has been widely circulated amongst the main players in the space industry (I haven't seen it myself, but I'm rather off to the side of the industry at the moment). From what I've heard, Steve has followed a very extensive consultative process in developing the plan. 
  • Steve also made the point at an event that I attended a few months ago, that he would release the plan if he could, but that it is an input to the next federal budget, and hence is being treated the same way that all budget documents are: as a secret cabinet document. Hence, Steve cannot release details of the plan in public, without the permission of the relevant Ministers (in practice, it would likely take explicit permission from the Prime Minister to do this). I expect that the details will be released soon after the next federal budget is released, which I believe will be early in March.
In other words, you shouldn't necessarily interpret lack of public announcements regarding a plan as indicative of lack of progress in developing the plan (although Steve could certainly say at least *that* much in public---maybe the Citizen article will prompt him to do so.
The above is certainly fair comment and makes two points.
  • It provides an indication of when the details of the document are likely to be released that isn't really all that far in the future.
  • It reminds us that while the CSA can collect the information needed to make policy recommendations and certainly controls policy implementation, the policy must also be approved and funded at the federal government level before implementation can proceed. At some point, we might need to start talking directly to our local MP's if we really want a new Canadian long term space plan.
    Also of note is this comment from a student at The University of Western Ontario who stated:
    Steve McLean is going to give a public talk at Western on April 12th - hoping we'll hear something about this elusive long-term space plan.....we'll see.
    With a little luck, perhaps there might be further comments over the next little while.

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